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Cholesterol Medication Linked to Birth Defects

Catherine McDiarmid-Watt | Wednesday, January 24, 2007 | 0 comments

For pregnant women or those considering becoming pregnant there is yet another group of drugs to add the list of one’s that can be potentially harmful to the growth of the fetus: cholesterol-lowering medications called statins.

Researchers at the U.S. National Institute of Health found that the use of these prescription medications during the first trimester is associated with severe central nervous system defects and limb abnormalities.

“We can’t tell whether the defects were caused by the use of statin medications, but other birth defect studies suggest that these are the kinds of problems that occur if the embryo does not get enough cholesterol in early pregnancy to develop normally,” said one of the study’s authors, Dr. Maximilian Muenke, a senior investigator and chief of the medical genetics branch at the National Human Genome Research Institute in Bethesda, Md. Dr Nancy Green, medical director for the March of Dimes, said the real problem is the lack of knowledge around the danger of the medications.

“Statins are very good for general health. But there’s a lot we don’t know about their safety in pregnancy because there is no national system for monitoring the safety of drugs during pregnancy,” Green noted. “This report is worrisome.”

She also said the problem lies in the fact that most pregnancies are unplanned, causing many women to practice potentially harmful habits before they know they are pregnant. The report advised that any woman taking the medications should immediately advise her physician upon discovering she is pregnant.


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About Catherine: I am mom to three grown sons, two grandchildren and two rescue dogs. After years of raising my boys as a single mom, I remarried a wonderful man who had never had a child of his own. Unexpectedly, I found myself pregnant at 49!
Sadly we lost that precious baby at 8 weeks, and decided to try again. Five more losses, turned down for donor egg, foster care and adoption due to my age and losses - we have accepted that there will be no more babies in our house.

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